February 24, 2010

The Mysterious Benedict Society Book #3

Posted by at 8:33 am in Reads | Permalink

Mysterious-bus_130 One of the cardinal rules of reviewing a book – or an album, or a film, or whatever – is that you're supposed read it (or listen to it or watch it) for the first time with a completely open mind. You have to try to forget all your preconceived notions and read the book without any bias one way or the other.

This was my first experience with Trenton Lee Stewart's Mysterious Benedict Society series, but I can easily see why it is so popular (STACKS users on the Message Boards rave about it all the time). Well, I think it's important for me to say, right off the bat, that I did not read The Prisoner's Dilemma with an open mind. Why? Because of the title. Any book that references the actual Prisoner's Dilemma – a classic thought problem from a very specialized branch of math called game theory – gets brownie points with me. (I literally judged this book by its cover, in other words.) The opening scene of the book has the four main characters (Sticky, a nervous genius with a photographic memory; Reynie, a boy given to brilliant flashes of insight but otherwise completely average; Kate, a freakishly fast and agile daredevil; and Constance, a telepathic four year-old who looks like a human fire hydrant) wrestling with that very same dilemma, and finding a new and slightly unorthodox solution that I won't spoil for you.

Mysterious-bus In any case, I was inclined to like this book, and I'm happy to say that it lived up to my completely irrational and unrealistically high expectations. It's filled with a large but manageable cast of quirky, lively characters; it's written in a pleasingly erudite style, and is GREAT for vocabulary geeks like myself. Plus it's got a really engaging plot that I was able to enjoy even though I haven't read the first two books in the series. I won't give too much away, but the members of the MBS are forced to use their unique talents to thwart a dastardly scheme. (If there's one gripe I have with the MBS series as a whole, it's that it seems pretty beholden to a classic kidlit trope: the gang of misifts, each with some special ability. The Maximum Ride series is the same way. Small gripe though.) It's also a fairly long book, and will keep you occupied for a good week or so – always a plus, as far as I'm concerned.

I'm happy to report that I can heartily recommend The Prisoner's Dilemma, especially if you like your writing a little more intellectual and your action a little more cerebral. Enjoy, Splotters!

Jack, STACKS Writer

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  1. aquachartreuse7

    I love Constance she has always been my favorite read the first book in like two days it was that good i wish they would make a movie or something i am so excited for the new one but i wish the series was longer like narnia or the harry potters :) x10

  2. adetoun a

    omg!!! i luuuv mbc i think im more lik reymie nyway i luv u kate ur personality is great in PRISONER DILEMMA it wasn’t ur fault Mr.curtain is mean n to constance keep rockin n to Trenton lee ur amazing lol! im out of breath bye!!!

  3. Jacquelyn

    OMG! I love these books ive read all three, (each three times as a matter of fact) and enjoyed every page! i cannot wait to read more books by this author and/or ones like it! If you havent already you have to read this book!

  4. Sophia

    I love the series! I’ve read all three over and over again. I also read them aloud to my family and there were some places where I had to stop because we were laughing so hard. through it all was the underlying suspense that kept us hooked…

  5. valeriesweetheart

    Theyre making a PREQUEL!!! YES!!! It’ll be called “The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict’! Bad news: it comes out in TWO THOUSAND AND TWELVE. Why do we have to wait sooo long??? I wanna read now! (there’s my Constance side, hehe)!

  6. valeriesweetheart

    OMG I LOVE THESE BOOKS!!!! I have read each one a billion times! Rumours of a new book/movie are surfacing… I hope they’ll pop into reality!When they do become a movie I’m going to it as Kate! I totally love these books. WRITE MORE, TRENTON!!!! :)

  7. Josh

    The books were not scary at all he books were very short and generally dumb i would not advise reading a second of this book as that second you could be going outside.

  8. swimygirl909

    I LOVE THIS SEIRIES!!!!!!! I’ve been searching for this book for like forever!!!:) I own the other 2 but i can’t get my hands on this 1.

  9. SoftballStar3

    This is my fave series ever. I wish it never had to end. I don’t want to give anything away though so I’m going to say no more. But does anyone know where I might find a quiz for Prisoner’s Dilemma?

  10. harryisthebest

    I. Love. This. Book.
    Mysterious Benedict Society is waaay better than most books I read. I love books so much that I had a book theme at my Bat Mitzvah, and Mysterious Bendict Society was one of the tables. It doesn’t really measure up to Harry Potter, but then again, what really can? It is my third favorite series in the world, and I think there might be a fourth coming on the way. I’m not sure, though.
    I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!

  11. idontuseusernames11

    My mom got me the first book at the library. after that, I was on a frantic search for the 2nd, and now the third! I am a fast reader, but the books were so good, I finished them each in about roughly 3-4 hours! These are great books and I can’t explain these complex situations to my mom! The writer, I give him props, for making such jumbled up mysteries into amazing endings!